DIY above-ground pools are an affordable way to beat the heat during the hot summer months. An above-ground pool kit can seem like a great idea for those who want to save money and take on a fun DIY project. However, there are hidden drawbacks to purchasing an above ground pool that many people overlook. From installation to maintenance, novice pool owners may find themselves in over their heads with the cost and upkeep of their pool.
Quite often, the truth is that the all-in price of an above-ground pool is quite more expensive than most consumers realize, at least if you’re going to go with a standard above-ground pool kit and try to finish it with a deck and upgraded equipment. Tack on installation and the costs can really add up quickly.
How Much It Costs To Install an Above-Ground Pool
- Pool Kit: $1,460 – $6,150
The cost of an average above-ground pool kit depends on its size, shape, and material. The cost also varies based on whether you purchase a basic or a more upscale model.
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- Upgraded Pool Equipment: $1,820 – $4,350
While the basic equipment that comes with the pool kit may be sufficient, you may want to consider upgrading to a better-quality pump and filter. Upgraded equipment can provide better circulation and filtration, which can help keep the water clean and clear.
The Pentair SuperFlo® VS Variable Speed Pool Pump for Above-Ground Pools is a popular equipment upgrade.
- Deck: $3,120 – $8,500
Adding a pool deck can provide a more attractive and functional space for lounging and entertaining. The cost of the deck depends on its size, materials, and design.
A deck for your above-ground pool is an added cost but one most homeowners want for a finished look.
- Installation: $3,200 – $6,500
Installing an above-ground pool requires leveling the ground, assembling the pool kit, and connecting the pool equipment. The cost of installation depends on the complexity of the project and the contractor’s fees. Ultimately, the total cost of the average above-ground pool project, including the pool kit, upgraded pool equipment, deck, and installation, would be between $9,600 and $25,500. Keep in mind that these are just rough estimates, and actual costs may vary depending on your location and a myriad of other factors.
Permits May Be Necessary
Installation is the first hurdle to overcome with a DIY above-ground pool. While the pool may come with instructions, there are still many things that could go wrong during your installation. For example, the ground may not be level, or the pool liner may be tricky to install, leading to needing a professional installation or costly repairs if you accidentally tear it while trying to install it yourself. In addition, some homeowners may not realize they need to obtain permits before installing a pool, which can lead to legal problems down the line, that’s exactly what happened to one homeowner in New York.
“I didn’t realize I needed a permit to install an above-ground pool in my backyard, and when the city found out, I was forced to take it down. It was a costly mistake that I wish I had avoided,” said Kevin Younger of Long Island.
After purchasing a DIY above-ground pool kit online and all the necessary materials, Kevin found that the final cost of installation was much higher than he anticipated. In fact, his above-ground pool installation cost him close to $12,500 all-in.
“I never thought installing an above-ground pool in my backyard could lead to such trouble. One day, a county inspector showed up with a fine and an order to take down the pool,” said Younger, “it turns out a neighbor must have reported me, and I had no idea that I needed a permit to install it. It was a really expensive lesson to learn.”
Inadequate Pool Equipment
The biggest problem with DIY pools comes after installation. Once the pool has water in it, the real work begins: maintenance. Many novice pool owners are ill-equipped to balance and clean their pool. Keeping the water clean and safe requires a lot of effort and expense. Chemicals, skimmers, vacuums, and filters are all necessary to maintain a healthy pool. If the pool is not properly maintained, it can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, algae, and other harmful organisms.
“I thought I could save money by maintaining my above-ground pool myself, but I soon learned that I’m no pool expert. I spent the better part of the summer trying just to keep it from turning green,” said Dallas, TX pool owner, Beth Pompano.
Many consumers report the equipment that comes with their above-ground pool isn’t up to the task of keeping their pool clean.
“The filtration equipment that came with my above-ground pool kit was very basic and we decided to upgrade it after the first week,” said Pompano, “it came with a small pump and a filter that didn’t do a very good job. We wound up upgrading to a Pentair pump and sand filter. That was an added cost but we noticed an immediate improvement right away.”
Underperforming pool equipment can result in poor water quality and the need for constant cleaning. In Beth’s case, upgrading the filtration equipment was costly, and she paid several thousand dollars. “The plumbing and electrical needed to be redone to accommodate the upgraded equipment, that was definitely an unexpected kick in the pants. Then we added a pool deck which was yet another cost.” said Pompano.
Unexpected Maintenance Fees
Vinyl liners in above-ground pools generally last 6-10 years before needing replacement, although this can vary based on factors such as the quality of the liner, the level of maintenance, and the amount of use. Signs that a liner needs to be replaced include fading, cracks, tears, or wrinkles that cannot be smoothed out.
The cost of replacing a vinyl liner in an above-ground pool varies depending on factors such as the size of the pool, the quality of the liner, and the cost of labor in the area. On average, the cost of a new liner and installation can range from $1,500 to $3,000 or more. However, a DIY installation can lower the cost if you have the necessary skills and equipment.
Finally, there are hidden costs associated with pool maintenance. Many homeowners assume that the cost of chemicals and equipment is all they will need to pay. However, weekly service is recommended to ensure the pool stays clean and balanced. This can still cost about $180 a month for basic chemical maintenance. These costs can quickly add up, making a DIY above-ground pool less of a bargain than it may seem.
Above-Ground Pools Are Still a Top Option For DIY’ers
Despite the hidden drawbacks of purchasing and installing an above-ground pool, homeowners continue to be eager to build their own backyard oasis. The DIY pool market typically sees a spike starting at the beginning of the pool season, and this summer is predicted to be no exception.
With the right knowledge, planning, and budget, homeowners can still successfully install and maintain their own above-ground pool. Still, it’s important to research local regulations and obtain the necessary permits before beginning installation. Make sure you’re installing on level ground and have equipment up to the task of adequately filtering your pool. Homeowners should also be prepared for the added costs of materials, equipment, and ongoing maintenance.
Feature Photo Credit: PoolCost.com